Sunday, March 8, 2009

No vampires at the Festa

Once again, Maryann of Finding La Dolce Vita and Marie of Proud Italian Cook are hosting Festa Italiana. I had a great time last year, sending in my Neopolitan Panna Cotta.

This time I thought I would go down memory lane and contribute a recipe from the only area in Italy to which I've been -- twice -- Piemonte. On two separate trips to Italy, that's where I've ended up, and I have to say that I would return in an instant. I love the countryside, with villages and buildings perched on all the hilltops and luscious vineyards which produce the most delicious red and white sparkling wine. I ate my first agnolotti on one of those hilltops. On one excursion, a friend and I drove down through Milano towards Asti, and stayed in an old farm house that was converted to a B&B. We spent quite a bit of time in both Piemonte and Liguria, and I recall that we also spent some time in Genova and Torino. One of my favorite places was Noli.

On the second trip, once again I found myself in Piemonte, this time staying in a tiny medieval village in the mountains, Airole. Each morning I'd walk down to the town square and order a special cheese and ham sandwich-like thing for breakfast, then drive down toward the coast to go shopping in Ventimiglia or Nice. There was also a side trip to Monaco and Monte Carlo.

Sometime after these trips, I discovered a cookbook devoted to Piemonte cuisine, so I snatched it up. The dish I'm bringing to the festa comes from this cookbook, reminding me of my wonderful visits to Italy.

Pasta with Garlic and Walnut Sauce
(adapted from A Passion for Piedmont by Matt Kramer)


3 ounces finely chopped walnuts
3 finely chopped garlic cloves (I used three extremely large cloves, possibly too much!)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dried bread crumbs, soaked in 1/2 cup milk

Place all ingredients into a food processor, and process until well-blended. (My sauce was more like a paste, so perhaps adjusting the olive oil would make it more sauce-like, and it was a perfect color match with the whole wheat pasta.)


Boil one pound of pasta in boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain and transfer to a large, warm bowl. Add 1 tablespoon butter and the sauce and mix until the pasta in thoroughly coated. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful dish! Thanks for joining our festa once again!
Maryann xox

Anonymous said...

Garlic and Walnut Sauce sounds delicious. YUM!

Proud Italian Cook said...

I'm ready to try this, I have my fork in hand! love the walnut sauce, sounds so yummy! Thanks so much for joining us!
xox, Marie

Megan said...

I remember stealing the panna cotta recipe from your site! It was amazing!

Garlic is good for keeping the vampires at bay, that's for sure!